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Search committees busy in Rowan

By Shavonne Potts
spotts@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY ó The search has been on to find someone to head several different positions and boards. The search committees responsible for finding that new director or manager isnít taking the task lightly.
The following are departments, companies and other entities searching to fill a leadership position:
Catawba College
In January, Catawba College President Dr. Craig Turner announced he would not renew his contract after nearly three years with the college. He accepted a position as president of Kentucky Wesleyan College in May.
Dr. Joe Oxendine is serving as interim president as the college conducts what Paul Fisher, trustees chairman, announced would be a national search.
Trustee Bill Graham, also a Catawba graduate, is chair of the Presidential Search Committee.
In a June statement, Graham said the focus on finding a candidate will be for someone who is a leader, has enthusiasm for higher education, is also a person with ěbold and visionary goals.î
Graham said the intent is to find someone to serve the college and ěactively participate in the life of the college and its surrounding community for many years to come.î
Fibrant
Jim Behmer, director of Salisbury-Rowan Utilities, became acting director of the cityís Fibrant broadband network after director Mike Crowell took early retirement.
Interim City Manager Doug Paris said there are six finalists for the Fibrant director job.
Four were interviewed before Christmas, and interviews will be set up for the remaining two, Paris said.
ěThey all have a background in private sector telecommunications,î he said.
Two of the potential candidates were from large Fortune 500 cable companies and the others were from smaller firms.
ěIn a year, weíve gone from 0 percent of the market to 13 percent,î Paris said.
The incoming director will need to be someone, he said, who will take the utility from 13 percent upward.
There is no rush to make a hasty decision, but the selection process is one in which the city wants to ětake time to deliberate and make a decision,î Paris said.
ěThis person will be leading our utility in its most challenging phase,î he said.
Historic Salisbury Foundation
Cynthia Cole Jenkins, hired March 1 last year as executive director of Historic Salisbury Foundation, took personal leave in mid-July after her mother died and then later resigned.
The foundation board is conducting a nationwide search for Jenkinsí replacement.
It took more than a year to hire Jenkins after Jack Thomson left to lead preservation efforts in Asheville and Buncombe County.
David Post also resigned after about four months as the foundationís interim director.
ěWe have a search committee,î said Susan Sides, president of the foundation.
There has been nationwide advertisement of the position, she said.
Sides said the committee will wait until mid-January to really look through resumes.
Once theyíve read resumes, the search committee will make begin an interview process.
Foundation officials have said they doesnít want to rush.
ěWe want to make sure we have someone who has the right qualifications, someone who will live in the community and be a part of the community,î Sides said.
The foundation will have a number of things going on this year, including its 40th anniversary.
NC Transportation Museum
Executive Director Elizabeth Smith retired Nov. 30, a day before the museum announced layoffs.
Brian Howell, the museumís chief of facilties, has been serving as interim director.
After a nationwide search for the museum director, the committee ó including Roy Johnson, president of a nonprofit foundation that supports the museum, and Keith Hardison, director of the N.C. Division of State Historic Sites ó narrowed the field to six candidates. Now the search committee has narrowed the candidates down to three.
The search produced a good number of candidates, Hardison said.
ěWe hope to finalize our decision in January,î he said.
Hardison said it takes time because the person selected will play a huge role ěin the future success of this museum.î
It is important the person selected has museum experience and good business sense, he said.
In 2011, the museum began charging for admission for the first time since it opened in 1983 after it lost some state funding.
ěItís a shift in the culture of the institution,î Hardison said.
Hardison hopes to have the new executive director in place by February.
ěWe have to have somebody to help us successfully complete that shift,î he said.
Salisbury City Manager
After 25 years as city manager, David Treme retired in 2011.
The cityís recruitment firm, Richmond, Va.-based Springsted Incorporated, recruited and screened 70 applicants from 23 states.
The field was narrowed down to nine and has since been narrowed to five potential candidates.
City council will meet again in January in closed session for interviews.
Mayor Paul Woodson said there is no rush.
ěDoug Paris (interim city manager) is doing an excellent job and is keeping things running very well. We are not in a rush. We want to make sure we get the right person,î Woodson said.
He said council members may choose a manager from the five finalists or they may not.
The five finalists do look promising, Woodson said. The most important issue facing the new manager is the budget, he said. The manager also needs to be able to keep services going and look at all employee benefits ó and keep all departments as efficient as possible, he said.
Rowan County Department of Social Services
Director Sandra Wilkes retired from the Department of Social Services at the end of October and has stayed on while the agency finds a permanent director. Wilkes has led the agency for more than a decade.
Budget Analyst Jane Johnson served as interim director for 30 days between Wilkesí retirement and when she could begin as interim.
Board Chair Lillian Morgan said the position has been posted in publications and on websites.
The deadline for applications is Jan. 31.
There are various expectations for the new director, Morgan said, including being able to plan, organize and manage.
ěWhatís important is they have an understanding of the socioeconomic factors in our county and how it affects the community,î she said.
She said the faces of the people needing help have changed.
The new director will also have to have at least five years of supervising experience and a masterís degree in social work, human services or public health.
The board hasnít discussed a date for the new director to be in place.
ěWe would like to do it as soon as we have the most qualified candidate. We expect the person to take us from where we are to greater heights,î Morgan said.
This person, Morgan said, ěbecause of the impact of the economic change on the community, has to be able to ensure DSS is doing all it can to meet the needs of the community.î
The new director will be a key player in helping a growing population of people in need, she said.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.

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